I read with concern, but no surprise, your lead article "Buying your way into
democracy - NEC bribes alleged" (Jan 2-15, 1998).
In an appreciative move, the Ministry of Interior allowed open and frank discussions
when the electoral law was drafted, including on the composition of the proposed
National Election Commission (NEC) - and members of the civil society, particularly
NGOs, played an active role. As someone who actively participated in collating the
NGO input to the drafting of the national Constitution in 1993 and having consistently
worked on women's rights and democracy issues, I considered such discussions as great
progress to establishing liberal democracy in Cambodia. The hard work of several
committed individuals and agencies helped to achieve that progress.
It is unfortunate that the recent election to nominate the NGO representative Chea
Chamroeun to the NEC is being publicly questioned. If this election was achieved,
as observed, not through free and fair means, will the functioning of the NEC be
credible? How bona fide will his actions be? Further, what justifications can the
Ministry of Interior give to the public for its active and direct role in the recent
election? What measures were taken to verify that people who voted that day were
representatives of NGOs legally registered with the Ministry and/or the Council of
Will the civil society, including NGOs, allow Chea Chamroeun to fulfill the agenda
of those who provided him the means to get elected to the NEC? Or, is it an indicator
of things to come in the July 1998 elections?
- Mu Sochua, Phnom Penh.